Mudcat Café message #733153 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #47285   Message #733153
Posted By: McGrath of Harlow
19-Jun-02 - 04:29 PM
Thread Name: Killed by the PEL system
Subject: RE: Killed by the PEL system
Just sent my MP this fax:

Dear Mr Bill Rammell,

Recently I sent you a letter in connection with the matter of Public Entertainment Licences, and my concerns that the 'reforms' in the pipelines are only too likely to make an unsatisfactory situation even worse, unless there are significant changes in what is proposed.

You sent me an acknowledgement and I know that you will be replying in good time - this is not a hurry up letter. However I feel it is appropriate to apprise you of an incident in a local authority not so far away.

In a pub called The Cricketers in Greenwich a number of folk musicians gathered on St Georges Day (April 23rd) to make music together, with the consent of the landlord. Officers from the local council came along to observe, and later sent this threatening letter to the landlord, (Vince Marshall, The Cricketers PH, 22 King William Walk, London SeE10 9HU):

'Council officers visited your premises on Tuesday 23 April at 9.23pm and observed twelve musicians performing folk music. You are already aware that to have more than two performers at your premises on any day is a criminal offence. The definition of 'performers' has never been tested in Court, but even if this was a jam session the Council's view is that these people were 'performers'. They were being watched by at least a dozen customers, who were tapping their feet to the music and thus being entertained by the performance.

I am sure you appreciate that a great majority of publicans pay licence fees and comply with licence conditions so they may provide this sort of entertainment to their customers. It is a constant source of dismay to these law abiding licensees to find certain other establishments in the borough providing public entertainment freely. The Council is always expedient in dealing with such matters and those licensees who repeatedly break the law are prosecuted.

I have enclosed an application pack for a Restricted Use Licence for your use. In my previous warnings you state the lease on the pub was shortly due to expire which is why you could not apply for a licence. Presumably this issue is now resolved so there is no further bar to you making an application. This licence will allow you to hold two events a week at your premises until 11.00pm and cost 320 for a year.

As you have been previously warned, the next step is for the Council to apply to the Magistrates Court to issue a summons against you. I sincerely hope this action will not be necessary. Your premises will be visited again and if further offences are found, legal proceedings may be instigated against you without further notice.

Jane Blade Licensing Officer.'

For more details I suggest you visit this website: http://greentrad.org.uk/

I am not suggesting that you should do anything about this particular case. It is not in your constituency, and nor is it in a neighbouring constituency, as were the two sessions I mentioned (in Waltham Abbey and in Stansted Mounfitchet) which have been closed because of similar problems.

The reason I draw it to your attention is because it provides further evidence of the way in which the PEL requirements are currently used in an oppressive and restrictive way which interferes with a very fundamental human right, our right to make music when we meet together to socialise, which is an aspect of free speech.

Just read that letter again: 'They were being watched by at least a dozen customers, who were tapping their feet to the music and thus being entertained by the performance.'

And the proposed reforms do nothing to make things better. Under the new regime, if a single person were to be playing a tune in a pub and that pub had not ensured that its licence included provision for musical entertainment, the landlord would be in trouble. If someone taps their feet while listening, that makes it entertainment, and defines what is happening as a performance, requiring a licence. (Which is already the situation in respect of coffee bars, for example - ever wonder why you never hear any live music in coffee bars these days?)

I'm sure there is no real intent on the part of the government to strangle informal live music. But that appears to be what is likely to be achieved.

The proposed reforms urgently need to be radically reshaped.All that is needed is to bring us into line with our neighbours in Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. It's not exactly difficult - but it does require a little flexibility and imagination. I'm sure you've got those qualities in abundance, but I am afraid I am not so sure about some of your colleagues who have been responsible for drawing up the proposed outline reforms.

Yours sincerely,